Garden Photo of the Day

Darwin is a Dreamboat!

This was a rebuild on a wheelbarrow whose wooden box had completely rotted out. The wonderful metal wheel and handles seemed too special to consider it a loss so Darwin built a whole new box and indulged my whim for a silly little planting pocket. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Michaele Anderson

Today’s photos are from our beloved Meander1, Michaele Anderson! She wants to introduce us to her husband Darwin, and tell you how wonderful he is. She says, “Hi all, I am sharing pictures today as a loving tribute to my husband, Darwin, and his wonderful design and craftsman skills.

This closeup shows the detail that went into the planting pocket. We used an upside down drawer pull to build the rest of it off of. I had fun picking out the little sedum and colorful stones. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Michaele Anderson

“The various projects that he has so generously undertaken on behalf of my notions (big and small) have added so much to the delight I take in my gardening passion and make all the work extra worthwhile. He is quite the “enabler”! So many times, I have started a conversation with, “wouldn’t it be nice if…” or “Can you think of a way we could…”. He smiles (most of the time), puts his thinking cap on and, after a bit (could be a couple of weeks as the ideas marinate), the assorted sounds of construction fill the air.”

This is the first of two identical wooden pergolas. It is the support for a VERY robust wisteria that once grew up and through an old tree.When the tree came crashing down over 10 years ago, Darwin made lemonade out of lemons. He designed and built it all by himself including the 2 swings. Hmmm, I think I helped tamp some concrete for the posts. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Michaele Anderson

I have a very similar kind of husband, Michaele, and they are a true blessing. Yay for Darwin!!!

We call this the butterfly gazebo. It was built as a sentimental tribute to a beloved dog who passed away. She is buried right under a side eve and the thinking was that she could keep us company when we sat and told stories about how wonderful she was. I wanted the shape to have a “Dr. Seusy” feel (ha, whatever that means) and Darwin did a lot of drawings until it seemed just right. The flowering trees are crape myrtles and the green evergreens are dwarf hinoki cypresses. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Michaele Anderson
This butterfly chair was a dream come true surprise birthday present. The sea of golden little flowers are a variety of zinnia that come back every year which is such a treat! Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Michaele Anderson
Often times, we try to make a gardening disappointment into an opportunity. Here we had a 3-trunked birch go kapooey so when it was cut down, I asked that the trunks be kept at around 5′ to 6′ high. Hmm, what to put there. How about a 2 “story” birdhouse that is adorned with fun stuff. Picking out the doodads and where to place them was a joint effort which was quite entertaining. The paint and trim color were a little trial and error but we’re happy with the result. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Michaele Anderson
What can I say…I succumbed to the charms of this little fake finch who has laid claim to the first floor residence. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Michaele Anderson
This is the area we call pergola #2 (ha, not very original, are we?). Anyway, the first one turned out so well and we had this smaller, kind of scrunched wisteria that just flopped about…we decided that it needed a structure, also. After Darwin finished the pergola, we proceeded to take the tangled branches of the youngish wisteria and pull and tie them to the top boards. A delightful artistic shape from the plant started to reveal itself. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Michaele Anderson
Here is the contorted wisteria trunk in all its glory. The path leads to one of my “butterfly poles” that is visable in the background. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Michaele Anderson
Here is a closer view of the butterfly pole. This is an example of me asking Darwin “Wouldn’t it look nice if….” and “Do yuou think youcould…”? It’s surrounded by different varieties of flowers andsome puple fountain grass. The flowers include ‘Denver Daisy ‘ black eyed Susan, ‘Cheyenne Spirit’ echinacea, and ‘Birthday Party’ sedum, as well as some blue ageratum. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Michaele Anderson
We honestly do sit on this swing and enjoy the view…not necessarily every day but it does happen! Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Michaele Anderson

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View Comments


  1. user-1020932 09/10/2013

    Mike and Darwin, it all looks great and your captions make it even more fun. i GOTTA take time to get to friendsville for a walkabout. i'm glad to see you are also sharing the birdhouses with all of GPOD, the one you brought my wife is a big HIT at her office and the website might make you more busy this winter than you had planned . warning people those birdhouses are heavy!

  2. crizmo 09/10/2013

    Meander1, you have ruined a beloved family expression, namely "Darwin at work". we say it while pointing at road kill or someone engaged in a foolish activity like biking without a helmet or arguing with MizMoss. I don't see how i can reconcile recklessness and stupidity with your Darwin's creativity and whimsy. Thanks a lot for spoiling my day!

  3. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 09/10/2013

    Y'all are an amazing creative team. i especially love how you have showcased the artful, twining wisteria "trunk"!

  4. pattyspencer 09/10/2013

    Totally love your garden - it's full of whimsey and love. Your hubby is so talented with his skills and you're very lucky to have him by your side!

  5. GardenGrl1 09/10/2013

    Gorgeous. I don't have a favorite picture, because I love them all. Thank you so much for sharing!

  6. Quiltingmamma 09/10/2013

    Darwin is a keeper, that's for sure. Love the whimsey and colour.

  7. Quiltingmamma 09/10/2013

    Oh, just caught up with the website. I can understand why they are heavy. Lovely though. Nice use of sentimental pieces, beads and stones. No girl can get too much glitz, even gardening girls. Makes me smile.

  8. GreenGrammy 09/10/2013

    Michaele, thanks so much for sharing your lovely and amazing garden, as well as the thoughtful, supportive comments you make almost every day. I don't comment often, but felt compelled to today. Darwin is indeed a dreamboat--and who is the regal canine in the artfully designed and planted wheelbarrow?

  9. wGardens 09/10/2013

    Just wonderful. Love all the creativity and joint efforts to produce such beautiful- and fun- elements for your garden. Love it! You are a GREAT TEAM!

  10. bee1nine 09/10/2013

    Hi there, Michaele, Wide smiles and heartwarming were my
    feelings for your delight-filled photo's and caption's today!
    There is no doubt you and Darwin make a wonderful, creative
    team. :)+:)
    Thanks for the little sweet reminder for us ladies with loving hubby's how truly appreciated they are!!

  11. User avater
    meander_michaele 09/10/2013

    Thank you all who are the early morning readers of the board for your kind comments.

    crizmo, I totally understand what you mean about the Darwin name...we are always entertained when we see it in reference to the theory of evolution and make a joke. And, of course, there are the annual Darwin Awards which "celebrate" the goofiest way someone has stupidly died and eliminated themselves from the gene pool.

    GreenGrammy, the pooch is an Australian Shepherd named Piper and, like most dogs, the easy way to get her to strike an alert pose is the shout (or even whisper) the word "Squirrel"...Bong, that head shoots up and her ears perk!

    tntreeman and any others, the welcome mat is always in place for a garden walkabout...hey, I don't live in a town named Friendsville for nothing!

  12. joycedaffodilhill 09/10/2013

    LOVE the butterfly chair. On the east coast this year we have been blessed with some many great butterflies that this chair would be great. You are right, your husband is a great "mud man" as my husband calls himself. "She comes up with the idea, and I do the mud work". The dog is adorable too. Lots of love and whimsey abound.

  13. debrees 09/10/2013

    Love the swing. I could sure enjoy that. The wheelbarrow and birdhouse are beautiful too. Love the color selections.

  14. GrannyMay 09/10/2013

    Michaele, your husband, like many, is a true enabler, much loved and appreciated. I, like many others, used to have one as well. I treasure the memories your story brings.

  15. terieLR 09/10/2013

    Autumn Joy to you from the other coast Michaele, Darwin and Piper. (I chuckle as we used the same technique to get our labs attention) Now THATS how to showcase wisteria and it's trunk! The loriope, grasses and sedum are stunning at it's foot. Such a lovely place to take rest from your gardening.

    I have been drooling all over your webpage.(great job Tara) My enthusiasm for birding (binoculars often hung over my shoulder as I work in the garden) immediately draws me to anything feather friendly. Your birdhouses are magical. I really enjoyed clicking on each one to see close-ups of all sides. You put enormous creative energies into them and I applaud both of you!

    Clever little 'planting pocket' on your rebuilt wheelbarrow. Love, love the colors! Is that a stonecrop sedum?

  16. Cattleya74 09/10/2013

    Hello Meander1. I loved all the photos! Nice job Darwin.
    My husband is in the process of making me a second Zen garden bench. The first one came out so well. Send us photos of any future projects

  17. sheila_schultz 09/10/2013

    Michaele, it's sounds to me like you and Darwin are truly a match made in heaven. It is such a gift to be blessed with a thoughtful spouse, don't you think?
    And Darwin, your work is awesome! I particularly love the butterfly gazebo, the roof line made me smile. You really live in a town called Friendsville? How perfect!

  18. sheila_schultz 09/10/2013

    I must be having a moment, what website?

  19. user-7006902 09/10/2013

    One can just feel the love that abounds in this garden and in your marriage! Beautiful. Love all the craftsmanship, quirky and creative details and the trunk of that Wisteria!

  20. greenthumblonde 09/10/2013

    What of masterpiece of character. Your garden and Darwin.

  21. User avater
    meander_michaele 09/10/2013

    Hi, terieLR, yes, tucked in the wheelbarrow planting pocket is some kind of low growing sedum although I no longer remember the variety. Thanks so much for your kind words about my
    birdhouse keepsakes website. I feel a little guilty that they are more for the indoors but we have created some interesting outdoor ones, as well. Right now, we are finishing up a cute 2 story (3 birdhole) center aisle barn with a pretty bronze horse (from off an old horseshow trophy...yay for recycling) standing in the aisle just to give it some pizzazz. Photos from your garden here on gpod were made me first start a pinterest board...they were too pretty not have saved in a special place.

    Sheila-Schulz, no, your powers of observation didn't fail you...looks like I committed a no-no by including the web address for my birdhousekeepsakes creations. It must have stayed in my copy for the first couple of hours. I didn't mean to bend the rules. I'm sure if you google the phrase birdhousekeepsakes , my site will show up if you get the itch to look.

    GrannyMay, I felt a heart tug at your poignant comment of no longer having your special helpmate in your life. We are grateful for memories but still miss the person...isn't that the way.

    On behalf of Darwin, thank you to everyone for appreciating his work.

  22. Cas123 09/10/2013

    How luck for you to have Darwin! You both compliment eachother in such a delightful way!

  23. wittyone 09/10/2013

    From the title and the initial picture I thought that Darwin was the dog. He's definitely a dreamboat as well! So dignified looking too. He doesn't have to create anything to qualify----he can just exist.

    Love the wheelbarrow and the butterfly chair----really nice. Oh and the pergolas as well. Actually all of it is wonderful! How lucky you are to have Darwin as an enabler.

  24. janeeliz 09/10/2013

    So delightful...from your dear dog sitting in that wonderful your dear husband so willingly creating such amazing structures ....from just the slightest hint! A lovely garden overflowing with LOVE!

  25. tractor1 09/10/2013

    Darwin is a highly skilled craftsman and also builds things to last forever... all materials the best quality and well oversized... nothing flimsy namby pamby about Darwin, meander1... I advise you keep him! LOL I love that bird house, do real birds rent rooms there? My bird houses are not nearly so nice, just plain ones purchased from Audubon... unfortunately the cedar trees they're on have developed a disease around here and I've lost seven huge ones, tree removal guy is coming next week. So now I'm inclined to acquire better bird houses. A great property and all Darwin's projects are world class, more pictures please, meander1/Michaele.

  26. User avater
    meander_michaele 09/10/2013

    Well, tractor, you are so right about Darwin building things to last. He used to work in heavy construction... building things like bridges and under water tunnels so his professional standards were high. Lives depended on it!
    Our big blue birdhouse just got put up a few weeks ago so we missed nesting season. It'll be interesting to see who lays claim to it next spring. We tried to be conscientious about incorporating a clean out feature but I humbly admit, it's as much for garden ornamentation as anything.
    That's terrible about your large cedar trees. Does the disease have a name and is it widespread. Our Smoky Mountain hemlocks are facing difficulty from something called the hemlock wooly adelgid and scientists are working hard to find a good preditor to beat it back.

  27. janetsfolly 09/10/2013

    Oh Michaele, I always so enjoy pics of your property and these are no exception. That shot of Piper looks like it belongs in a pet calendar! What a handsome boy! Kudos to Darwin, I love that he takes your little hints and just runs with it. Keep up the great work, you two!

  28. janetsfolly 09/10/2013

    Oops! I just realized that Piper is a girl!!! And such a pretty one! Sorry about that.

  29. tractor1 09/11/2013

    meander1: The fellow who will be removing the cedars said he will report the problem to the proper authorities... maybe I'll hear something. But right now I am very upset about poor Newt, what we thought was an abscessed tooth turned into a much more serious condition, he has a tumor in his jaw that is spreading down his throat, surgery is not an option. I will have to have him put down soon... what a revolting development.

  30. ancientgardener 09/11/2013

    Everyone should have a Darwin -what a craftsman!! My favorite is the butterfly gazebo with the two hinoki cypresses. It was one of the first evergreen shrubs I ever planted and remained a favorite until age forced me to give up a large portion of my garden. The butterfly bench is exquisite also.

  31. cwheat000 09/11/2013

    Meander1- you and Darwin are a wonderful team and your dog is too cute. Darwin does some fine work and he sounds so pleasantly agreeable. Your property is truly beautiful, because of two talented and lovely people. That butterfly gazebo is so cool and such a lovely tribute. I am sensing you like butterflies, lol.

  32. annek 09/11/2013

    Love it, love it, love two are amazing!

  33. fransies 09/11/2013

    it takes a big-hearted guy to help make our big dreams come true. Darwin is apparently that guy for you! the pergolas and other seating areas Darwin has constructed are so inviting and peaceful looking, I feel refreshed just vewing the photos. the birdhouse is also a delightful feature. you mention ornamenting it, but where does one get the birdhouse?

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